How to Say No to A Child and Not Get Hysterical in Return

How often do we say ‘no’ to a child’s request only to be worn down by them bawling their eyes out, being hysterical, and throwing tantrums?  

Children begin to have mood swings that can test their parent’s and guardians’ patience from a year and above. Most times, telling a child no can change their mood from bubbly to hysterical within a second.  

Even perfect parents still have to deal with refusing their children’s requests, especially if they insist on having their ways. 

Different Ways to Say No to Children

Children make it very hard for adults to deny them of things due to how they can easily get hysterical. 

It is extremely difficult to listen to a pleading child’s cry or watch their sad faces when they do not get their ways. Nevertheless, no matter how hysterical your child becomes, you should avoid frequently changing your no to a yes. 

Try these helpful ways below when you want to reject a child’s request and avoid acting out. 

Offer a Reason

Offering a reason why you are telling your child no will help make them understand the potential dangers in what they want to do. 

For instance, instead of saying, ‘You cannot stay up past your bedtime,’ you should try saying, ‘I cannot allow you to be awake by this time because you have to be up early tomorrow to prepare for school.’ When your child understands your reason, they are less likely to throw a tantrum.  

Give Logical Consequences for Their Actions

When necessary, respond by giving consequences for your child’s hysterics. These are effective in letting your child know that their behavior- yelling, crying, and nagging, will not be accepted. If your child starts getting hysterical, follow through with a consequence. The set consequences could be as little as a time-out to reflect, or no screen time, and no playing in the park.

Be Diplomatic

There will be some instances when you just have to be diplomatic when telling a child no. This is because immediately some children hear no, they cannot even reason with you or hear anything else. 

Hence, you should reframe your yes as a no when dealing with them. Toddlers tend to always ask for snacks and sweets when shopping. 

To avoid having a full-blown hysteric session with them, especially if you do not plan on getting it for them, you could say, “Alright, I will give you sweets before your bath. Let’s get some fruits this moment.” What you are doing is packaging your no to sound more diplomatic. 

Do Not Yell at Them

Do not be too hard on yourself when you react in anger at your child, especially if they do not listen to you. When you yell when your child does not listen to your ‘no’, it will escalate your child’s hysteria, and this will probably make you angrier. 

Luckily, apps you can use are specifically designed to keep your child from throwing tantrums.

Use Distractions

Distractions work every time with children because they have short attention spans. 

Instead of repeating ‘no’ continuously when you do not want to answer their requests, better still, try creating a distraction with a game or giving them something different. 

If they do not want to put on their school shoes, you can read their favorite story while wearing them.  

Things to Avoid When Turning Down A Child’s Request

Who has not been guilty of caving in to children’s requests, despite wanting to say no?  

Turning down some of your child’s requests is important as it prepares them for some of the disappointments they will face in the world. Below are ideas on what to look out for when saying no to a child.

How to Say No to A Child and Not Get Hysterical in Return

Manipulative Sweet Actions

While most children get hysterical when they’ve been told ‘no’, others tend to use the other option by being extra kind and cute. Do not fall for this their manipulative behavior and stick to your words. It might be charming, but you have to stand your ground. 

Some of these charming actions might be cleaning up their rooms or even finishing their homework on time so you can change your mind. Let them know that you know what they are doing and have no plan to change your answer. 

Over Negotiation

Over-negotiating is a common trap people fall into when they tell children no. They always try to outsmart your decision and give alternatives for why you should say yes. 

This does not mean you should avoid all forms of negotiation with the child. Instead, only allow healthy negotiations and not all the time. When the negotiation is healthy, it is devoid of manipulations such as tantrums, hysterics, and crying. 

The emphasis is on not allowing negotiation all the time, so your child can learn to respect people’s limits and boundaries. 

Not Giving Definite Answers

When you turn down a child’s request, you have to be firm. It can be frustrating to them when they hear things like, ‘I will think about it’ or ‘Probably not.’ In response to your uncertainty, they will often turn to hysterics, plead, and whine so that you can change your answer. Therefore, to show them that you mean business, you have to be assertive and say it in an authoritative and definite way. 

Although there are times when you are unsure, and the answer is a ‘maybe.’ In these instances, you have to make it clear why you are uncertain to avoid their hysteria. 


Raising children can be overwhelming because they like having their way most times. Parenting can be easier when you learn to be positive and know the different positive ways you can say ‘no’ to a child.  

Know that children will always test your limit, but as you apply these steps, you are promoting positive communication between you and the child, and also teaching them not to be manipulative people.